The future residents of a major regeneration project in Banbury have started work to turn their new flats into a home.
Cherwell District Council purchased the vacant Calthorpe House building in Calthorpe Street two years ago to provide 15 new affordable rent apartments through its award-winning Build! project.
With the building shell now almost complete, the future residents have arrived on site to begin finishing the interior works themselves ahead of moving in later this year.
Councillor John Donaldson, Cherwell’s lead member for housing, said: “For years this site had been left to waste but now it is offering a fantastic housing opportunity right in the heart of Banbury. Residents will be able to walk to the town and enjoy its amenities before coming back to relax in a brand new apartment which they will have helped to finish.
“The opportunity to finish the interior works themselves gives the residents a rare opportunity to design a rental property to their own taste and create a home they are proud of and want to live in. We are looking forward to seeing how 15 empty shells are transformed over the coming months ahead of the first residents moving in.”
The site had previously belonged to Oxfordshire County Council and following its demolition, Art Contracts Limited of Banbury arrived on site at the end of last year to begin constructing 15 one and two bedroom apartments.
In exchange for completing the interior works, such as fitting kitchen units, decorating and hanging doors, residents will receive a discount if they wish to purchase their home in future. All have been offered the opportunity to attend free training sessions with ACE Training of Kidlington and have received support from site staff and apprentices.
Among those preparing to move to the site is Anthony Flint, 48, of Banbury, who is currently staying with a friend of a friend while he completes the work his new one-bedroom flat.
He said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity because you feel like you have a real part in building your own home. All of the help is there and I really like the open plan design as it’s ultra-modern.
“I’ve got to meet all of my neighbours and we’re on first name terms; there’s a sense of community and we’re not event moved in yet. I’m hoping to be in for Christmas – it would be a great way to finish off the year.”
For more information on the Build! project visit www.cherwell.gov.uk/build